Tag Archives: frying Pan river

Death Between Lives

The thermometer in my car read -3 degrees. The snow fell relentlessly as I curled up in my driver seat, praying that my heater would miraculously spring back to life to warm bones that reflected the outside temperature. I shivered knowing that I shouldn’t, my body had no sugars to process for heat. Hours ago, the sun had already made its way over the pass with ease. Something that, in the moment preceding hypothermia, my car and I envied. If I could just make it over the pass and get moving, heat would slowly pour through the vents and save my life. That was only a wish. I covered myself with a slew of winter gear and waited for the sun to make its way over the pass yet again to warm not only the road, but my slowly fading body heat.Vailsnow1

Years ago, while running a guitar shop in Las Cruces, a very warm day brought on a cold revelation. Sitting outside I watched a truck barreling down the road driving at a speed around 70mph in a 35mph zone. Before I could contemplate what a terrible and careless driver this man was, I heard something that sounded like an explosion. I ran to the sound and aid of someone that I had never known. When I had arrived, it was too late and the speeding driver opened his door to find the man who I never knew lying in his own back seat, passing into another world. The man was probably on his way somewhere, never thinking the place he was headed would no longer involve a car. The driver sat on a curb waiting for judgement to be passed upon him as well. I turned and walked away after a short statement. It was in that moment I realized no matter how safe you think you are, your card can be pulled in an instant at any given time.Pansnow1

The thermometer read -12 and inside my car was not much warmer. I rubbed my hands together to generate heat for my slowly numbing fingertips. Out of nowhere, I felt an audible chuckle become an uproar of laughter. The movement helped and the laugh originated from the thought of the previous day. The thought of laughter with my friend on the Frying Pan River and my freezing fingertips that day. In fact, the whole trip and the reason I was stranded here in the snow was due to wanting to test a new fly on a river filled with extremely picky fish. John suggested that we fish the Colorado that morning because he had left his waders in another state, in another car. I somehow talked him into fishing the Pan without the use of waders. While we stood on the banks of the river, fish flew out of the water and we cursed each fish for the taunting. It took a while for us to get into the swing of the river again. For John, it had been three months since he wet his line. For me, I had been fishing the Arkansas tailwater too much. As we changed flies, we picked up the occasional fish, but nothing seemed to work until John switched to a dry, and I to a streamer. The two dumbest flies we could have ever chosen. A “Chewbacca Bugger” and a Parachute Adams were our flies of choice and neither of us expected what was about to happen. Laughter exploded from the walls of the canyon as we began catching fish that we never thought we would catch on flies we never thought would work, on a snowy February afternoon.IMGP0542

That night, John and I ate dinner joking about the waitress the evening before and “Seasoned Fries” that were ordinary fries coated in black pepper.When John asked, she called them “Regular Seasoned Fries” and our confusion as to whether or not they were seasoned or regular was quelled. The food packed my stomach full. As John and I departed, I sat in my car. The last thing I wanted was to drive home in the snow. I threw on my winter gear and drove away unknowingly into a storm. By the time I had pulled out of Glenwood Canyon, I was already worried and running low on gasoline as well as funds in my bank account. The snow began to collect on the road and my car slid aimlessly down the highway, in chaotic control with a white-knuckled driver behind the wheel. Through the town of Eagle, the snow began worsen. My foggy headlights barely piercing the veil of white that fell before me. Vail pass was next, but before I reached the city of Vail, my car nearly spun out of control. Driving time was over and the only thing possible for me to do was wait in a Safeway (ironic, right?) parking lot. As the hours ticked away and my body temperature dropped, the thought of the previous day eventually put me to sleep.fryingpan1

4:00am -17 degrees… I woke up from the cold with a gasp and subsequent cough. Unable to feel my lips and finding it difficult to move, I got out of my car and walked a lap. With feeling once again in my extremities, I had to move. I had to drive. Leaving the Safeway parking lot was difficult, knowing that I might be stranded on the side of the road rather than a parking lot where I could call for help. Even the snow on the road made it tough. With only a couple of hours of sleep, I found myself spinning my tires up the onramp. Inching closer and closer to my destination, I rocked back and forth trying to push my car up the hill. Movement meant heat. As my car skittered onto the icy highway, I heard a familiar sound. A sound I had not heard in over a month. My heater had kicked on! I turned all of the dials to the hottest possible settings. Slowly, the cab warmed to a temperature capable of baking bread. I basked in its heat and breathed a sigh of relief. It was not my time… yet. With a little bit of determination and a lot of luck, I made it over the pass and down into the town of Silverthorne. At 5am, I knew of a place to sleep until it was warm enough to fish. I did just that.IMGP0554oldbuddy2

This new day was never supposed to happen. I should have been dead, or at the very least, at work. This day was a new one, the day after I didn’t die. As I cleaned my waders, I thought about the man I had never known. I wondered if he had passed on a day that he truly enjoyed, that was full of love and fulfillment. While fishing that day, I asked the same to myself. The answer was a resounding, “No”. My love is the river, and my heart belongs there, I was born to die on it. With the fresh thought of death in my mind, I realized that the only value of life is to find your fulfillment. The only way to accomplish fulfillment is to chase your dreams. The following day at work, I wrote a letter of resignation.IMGP0548

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Guess Who’s BACK!!!!!!!!

CHI-KOW!!!! For those in the know, that’s a karate chop. After all of this time i finally found the app to upload a blog post… From my phone! How amazing is this world we live in? This thing we call technology. Just wow. I’m a pretty happy camper right now and i feel the need to recap this entire year. Granted, I’ve probably lost all of my readers, but it’s like a new beginning for me into an era of technology. My “konnetic” rod has been giving me advice on the future and says that i should really get with the times. Heck, even Sanders has begun the “neofly” slang without me.

It all began on a cold night, the kind of night fishing dreams are made of. I remember it perfectly. March something, 2012 was the date originally a pristine white on the calendar now carried the burden of a big black “X”. The gravestone of a buried day. The screams of drunken teenage skiers pierced the quiet dead cold night. I tied on the desk lit by a tiny lamp in the ancient hotel room. “The Usual” seemed to be the bug of bugs this winter season. The more I tied, the more i grew tired. My winter gear was in the laundry below the party. No sleep, the gear will find new legs.

The morning began and i was off to a late start so I figured, “why not do some fact finding at a local shop?” After shopping for a few, I saw it. My new fishing buddy. The one that would be with me for the rest of my life, the one to talk to me when I’m feeling lonely, the one to pick me up when I’m down. “The One” Who says you can’t buy love? Some may call me a sellout, Nate, John T. In my defence, I’ve had my old rod for the past 15 or so years. Time for a new one, and Nate, you have broken more 100 dollar rods in your life than this one cost.

When I finally made it up the Taylor, it was -8 degrees. Some may say that is too cold for fishing, but they were rising. The One was at home fishing with me, it new it’s fate. Since then, The One and I have…

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Caught Blue River brutes,

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11 Mile maniacs,

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Crystal River crazies,

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Frying Pan-handlers,

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And participated in the g-town beat-down.

Also, not pictured was a natural tiger trout and some other assorted very large fish. The One was also with me when… I slid down the side of a mountain, was sucked into a river, almost broke my leg and hand and arm (all different occasions), nearly froze to death, attacked by bees and ants, and nearly struck by lightning.

This is what you have been missing and I apologize for the stories that I couldn’t tell, but today begins a new beginning. A very exciting and fun beginning. I’m ready? Are you?